Freeze on council tax expected

THE tax precept charged by North Hertfordshire District Council is to be frozen for another year, with a decision for mid-Bedfordshire and Stevenage expected soon.

North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) Cabinet agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to recommend to full council that the rate remains the same. It will be the third year running that the tax is frozen in the district.

Herts County Council has already said that it will freeze its precept. The police are still to decide theirs.

Councillors also approved recommendations on the budget for the 2012/13 period, which full council will consider next month.

Following on from a Cabinet meeting last month, they agreed to remove proposals to cut funding for homelessness and public protection. And they agreed to include freezing car parking charges, although resident permit prices could be increased.

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Money will also be saved by the temporary closure of Hitchin and Letchworth museums, expected to be later this year.

“Council tax will have remained the same for three years. It’s something we are very proud of and I think we should congratulate ourselves for continuing to do so,” said Cllr Terry Hone, NHDC portfolio holder for finance.

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“The budget is not quite as calamitous, as far as we are concerned, as much as previous years and could be in future years, because we have made those changes already.”

Central Bedfordshire Council and Stevenage Borough Council will both make a decision next month based on recommendations.

Stevenage Borough Council’s executive will meet on February 7 and make recommendations for full council, who will meet on February 29.

Council leader Cllr Sharon Taylor said: “We genuinely haven’t made a decision yet. We are looking at the national picture and our budgets.

“We want to do what we can, but the problem is the money given to councils to do this is only for one year.

“If we don’t put up council tax this year and we don’t get the money next year that will mean a 5.5 per cent increase next year. Do we risk not getting anything to help us? And then put it up higher than the government cap? What we really want to do is help people this year.”

Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive will meet on February 14 to come up with budget recommendations to take to full council on February 23, when a final decision will be made.

A spokesman said: “The budget process so far is based on no rises for the Central Bedfordshire Council element of council tax.”

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